In the copywriting world and elsewhere, the question remains: to use the Oxford comma or to eliminate it?
Otherwise known as the serial comma, the Oxford comma remains a subject of considerable debate in multiple public and private circles. This notorious punctuation mark is succinctly defined by the Oxford University-affiliated Lexico as “an optional comma before the word ‘and’ at the end of a list.” Although it neglects to mention that the Oxford comma can also appear before the conjunction “or,” this definition matches the influential general writing style guidelines of the Associated Press (AP), which recommend employing an Oxford comma only when needed to prevent obvious cases of probable reader misinterpretation.
Oxford comma basics
Traditionally used by the editors and printers of the Oxford University Press, the Oxford comma is intended to prevent ambiguity and promote ready grammatical understanding by clearly demarcating all items in a series. Consider the following example presented by Lexico:
“These items are available in black and white, red and yellow, and blue and green.”
The Oxford comma before the penultimate “and” makes the color combinations above perfectly clear. But look what happens when the Oxford comma is omitted:
“These items are available in black and white, red and yellow and blue and green.”
Colors blur into one another, making a real mess!
The Oxford comma in copywriting and other industries / sectors
Although widely used in academia, the Oxford comma has long been a matter of debate in sectors that range from journalism to law.
The legal implications of the Oxford comma recently became apparent through a $10-million class-action lawsuit involving a dairy company in Maine. As detailed by the leading editing and proofreading service provider Scribendi, this lawsuit centered on the following sentence: “The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of: (1) Agricultural produce; (2) Meat and fish products; and (3) Perishable foods.”
With no Oxford comma after “packing for shipment,” the exact exceptions for the shipment and/or distribution of the listed food products remain unclear.
In the world of marketing, the average copywriting agency is likely to let the client have the final word when it comes to including or omitting the Oxford comma. At BIGEYE, however, we tend to encourage the use of the Oxford comma to avoid problems such as those detailed both above and below.
Why the Oxford comma is important
In addition to the confusion inherent in the instances listed above, the Oxford comma is essential to avoid the misunderstandings that can arise when readers mistake appositives (which rename nouns) for items in a series or vise versa. You may have seen one or more widely circulated examples that drive this problem home using humor.
Take, for example, the sentence…
“This book is dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand, and God.”
With the Oxford comma, it is perfectly clear that the book has three dedicatees. Now, look at the same sentence without the Oxford comma:
“This book is dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand and God.”
If read as an appositive, the phrase “Ayn Rand and God,” leaves the book dedicated to two people only…and a highly unlikely couple to have a child together!
For this reason among others, standard-bearers of scholarly writing such as the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the Chicago Manual of Style recommend the consistent use of the Oxford comma.
The argument against the Oxford comma
In addition to the AP, many official style guides attempt to avoid the clutter of unnecessary punctuation by recommending that writers use the Oxford comma only when reader confusion is likely to occur. In many ways, this makes perfect sense. After all, the phrase “less is more” applies to all aspects of writing and should be actively employed to prevent wordiness and produce text that is easy on the eyes.
But who is qualified to differentiate cases that may lead to misunderstandings from cases that will not? In short, writers who fail to consistently use the Oxford comma may easily miss language that will seem confusing and/or conflicted to a large number of readers.
Other Oxford comma detractors cite purely grammatical reasons for its omission. For example, consider the sentence “This book is dedicated to my mother, Ayn Rand, and God.” If mistaken for an appositive, “Ayn Rand” can, once again, be mistaken for the mother of the book’s author. If it is universally recognized as a tool for setting off items in a series, however, the use of the Oxford comma before “and” cannot be misinterpreted.
Getting professional copywriting help
When it comes to writing effective copy, the ultimate answer to the Oxford comma debate is best answered with the assistance of a skilled and knowledgeable marketing agency like Bigeye. A one-stop shop for all of your marketing needs, we offer a range of premium copywriting services.
The Bigeye Creative Team joins host Adrian Tennant this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS to discuss creative trends for brands in 2020.
In Clear Focus this week: future directions for creative in 2020 and the decade ahead. Research firm Nielsen has reported that for CPG brands, 49 percent of sales lift from advertising was attributable to the creative. Bigeye team members Dominic Wilson, Erik McGrew, and Nick Hammond discuss what the new decade might mean for visual design and consider the challenges of crafting effective advertising campaigns in a fragmented media landscape.
Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising. Produced weekly by Bigeye Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye – an audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency. We’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us for our first episode of 2020. So this week we’re going to be talking to some of the creative team here at Bigeye about what a new year and a new decade might mean for design in marketing communications. A couple of years ago, the research from Nielsen analyzed over 500 consumer packaged goods brand campaigns that ran on all major media platforms, linear and addressable television, online, digital and video, mobile, magazines, and radio. Nielsen reported that almost half 49% of sales lift from CPG advertising was attributable to the creative. That is ad quality, messaging, and the context of the placement. And in a separate study conducted by the research firm Ipsos for Facebook, creative quality was found to determine 75% of advertising’s impact as measured by brand and ad recall. Joining me here in the studio today are senior multimedia designer, Dominic Wilson; designer, Eric McGrew; and designer Nick Hammond. So guys, let’s kick things off by considering how visual design has changed over the last decade. What are some of the greatest influences on visual design today, say compared to 2010. Erik?
Erik McGrew: I think mobile has been a really big game-changer. I think kind of at the start of the decade it was sort of like an afterthought, you know, the main focus would be on the website and mobile would be great if you had it. I can’t think of a single website that doesn’t have a mobile version or an adaptive or responsive version of it.
Adrian Tennant: Nick?
Nick Hammond: It felt like recently we got into this gradient color gradient thing that everyone’s been doing, which is kind of the next adaptation of flat icons. I also think social had a huge role to play in a lot of it because now anyone can get on and start creating different things and put it out there and someone can see it and iterate on it. And so it feels like the design or art world in general fractured into these multiple different pieces of people putting different aesthetics together and mixing and mashing and it’s moving so quickly because you can see it instantly, and put it up instantly, and iterate on it instantly. Like as a tool that affected what design is.
Adrian Tennant: Right. That’s interesting. So we have Instagram, we have Pinterest accounts. You referenced the availability of online tools – often free. Are we all in some way creatives now?
Nick Hammond: I think everyone’s creative to a degree. And I think as a designer I see it having changed mostly in how I get direction from people. So it feels like you’re kind of getting more direction as a designer.
Adrian Tennant: Erik, have you found that too?
Erik McGrew: You know, everyone’s a creator and that’s great because it’s just more wells of inspiration to draw from. I always find myself going back and forth on how I feel about social because I think that’s great. And on the other hand, certain things can happen. Like Dribble’s a great website. I love going there, like checking out everyone’s work. But I think when you start associating likes to a piece of art, a couple of things can happen. One thing that seems sort of gets a little, I don’t know what the word is, like a little incestuous with like everyone doing the same design now because that’s what’s getting promoted to the front page. And then also just as an artist tying your own self-value to like, “Oh my gosh, this thing only got 20 likes.” I think that can be super detrimental. I find myself doing that a lot. So I think there’s really, really, really great things that social’s done. But I also think there’s kind of the tail end of that, um, is wrapping up like your own value as a creative in what other people have to say about your art.
Adrian Tennant: So commercial photographer Chase Jarvis established CreativeLive and online creative education platform a decade ago and LinkedIn acquired the online software training company, Lynda.com a couple of years ago. Do you use any online resources for your own continuing education? Let’s start with Dom.
Dominic Wilson: I used Lynda in the mid-two thousands but eventually moved on to demos and lectures found on YouTube and Vimeo, in addition to simply just experimenting.
Adrian Tennant: Nick?
Nick Hammond: The way that I think about what being a creative is, it seems like it’s continually being blurred. Where before I would’ve said, “Oh, because I have this experience, I feel like I’m labeling myself as a creative or as a designer,” and with these tools coming out now someone might, you might not see them as a designer or a creative because they’re using a tool as a first step. But you kind of also have to step back and say, “well, who’s to say that they don’t have some other form of thinking that they can bring to the table?”
Adrian Tennant: Erik, your thoughts?
Erik McGrew: I totally agree with that and I think for like a couple thousand dollars and buying a computer, you could teach yourself any of these skills at any of these colleges. I mean, I feel like every day I’m on YouTube or Google, like “how do I do this thing in Illustrator?” And there’s like a minute-and-a-half video that explains it. Yeah, I’m all for education and having it be free and collaborating and talking to people. I’ve worked with people who think they’ve discovered like some trick or like they some style that they kind of like act like a gatekeeper of and they don’t want to show you that how they do it. And I just, I just think that’s crap. Like I’m all about asking how someone did something.
Adrian Tennant: All right. So every year Pantone announces its color of the year, which often influences fashion, home furnishings, and industrial design as well as product packaging and graphic design. In 2017, it was “Greenery” in 2018 “Ultra Violet” and in 2019, “Living coral.” So for 2020, Pantone has selected “Classic Blue.” The website states that, “as technology continues to race ahead of the human ability to process it all, it is easy to understand why we gravitate to colors that are honest and offer the promise of protection, non-aggressive and easily relatable. The trusted Pantone classic blue lends itself to relaxed interaction.” So first of all, what do you think about their choice, Nick?
Nick Hammond: I don’t necessarily ever really follow the Pantone color thing and I always think it’s kinda funny cause we were talking about the design trends thing earlier in it. It feels like to me more of just a marketing thing on their part. They already have kind of a stranglehold on color. I mean the color itself makes sense.
Erik McGrew: Yeah. I mean I think there’s a reason you have these huge companies like social companies like Twitter and Facebook using blue. It’s easy. I have a weird relationship with blue. I think it’s sometimes I struggle with color in general and blue always seems like a cop-out. I’m always like, “Hang on, I wish they would’ve done something cooler.” I always find myself gravitating towards like weird, like ochre colors or like yellows and oranges and I think they’re more interesting.
Adrian Tennant: That’s the influencer part of the Pantone reference. Okay, if you were tasked with selecting the next Pantone color, what would it be and what would be the rationale behind it?
Nick Hammond: I think you’d have to throw a curveball in there and it wouldn’t be a color, it would be multiple colors. I’m not sure if Pantone has done that yet or not. I’m sure they probably have. But to me it’s just very earthy now, you know, and kind of muted and it’s like, that feels like where a lot of it’s going is colors that are a little more subdued and kind of have a vintage retro-y we feel to them.
Adrian Tennant: Okay. So Erik, any advance on multicolor…?
Erik McGrew: I that would be super interesting. I didn’t even think of that. I would love to see like, I think kind of what you said, like a weird orange or like a mustard yellow thrown in there. The psychology of color is such like a weird, interesting thing. And I would love to see if Facebook had to re redesign all their stuff with an orange-based color scheme. Like what would that look like? I’d get weird with it. I don’t know. Something, some weird color
Adrian Tennant: Hmm, Dom?
Dominic Wilson: If you had kind of some hideous color choice, it wouldn’t be more exciting than just some muted pastel.
Adrian Tennant: Right.
Nick Hammond: It’s funny cause I feel like all of our answers to these things are just continually backing up. The idea that design is just fractured into a million different things and it’s you’re breaking the fundamentals of what design is. Ugly colors, weird different type, different structures. It just feels like it’s all over the place.
Adrian Tennant: Let’s talk a little bit about video. Published research found that viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to just 10% when they read it in text. Last year, $36 billion were invested in video-based digital advertisements. Do you foresee video becoming even more dominant?
Dominic Wilson: Definitely. Those stats you just read confirmed that there are significant opportunities for businesses that haven’t leveraged video and motion graphics, especially in regards to saturating their own social channels and in the digital ad space.
Erik McGrew: A previous job working primarily with like social media stuff and being able to see the numbers. Yeah, there’s, it’s almost like you can’t even compete in the early days. We would throw out not even good videos and they were just outperforming everything. So yeah. And I think that’s why there’s been such a rise with like motion graphics and I think people just want to watch stuff move and you almost get, just can’t compete with it.
Adrian Tennant: Yeah. I think I read somewhere that it’s like 80% of digital revenue ultimately use some form of video. And now we have over-the-top TV as well. Video absolutely is King. So Dom, you’re the senior multimedia designer at Bigeye and you handle most of our video and motion graphics projects. What changes or trends have you seen in motion graphics in recent years?
Dominic Wilson: I’ve noticed that more and more shows, movies, live events, commercials contain three D design elements and a higher level of sophisticated animation. You can see various examples in title sequences, food and beverage products, consumer goods, especially in athletic footwear and automotive. I mean, you no longer have to only rely on live video capture. You showcase what it is you’re trying to promote, which is why you see a demand for highly skilled 3D artists.
Adrian Tennant: Erik, what do you think about typography? Maybe thinking about ads but also products and packaging design.
Erik McGrew: Typography is what I struggle with the most sometimes just because I think it’s such a, I mean it’s a whole world in and of itself. You could spend your entire life just focusing on typography and probably make a living off it. It’s kind of overwhelming and I think it goes back to, you know, everyone has these tools to make their own set of fonts now our what used to be like such a specific art form, anyone can do it now.
Adrian Tennant: How has your own personal design style evolved over the years?
Nick Hammond: Yeah, so my design style had kind of started via looking at more marketing material that was coming out of a lot of clothing brands at the time. So back when I was getting out of high school and into college I had, my whole background was with the apparel industry and I was doing some work for a friend. I had run a paintball apparel company for a while and I was playing competitively. So I was kind of constantly seeing these messaging, these different, I was constantly seeing different forms of messaging that were geared toward younger males. And so it was very aggressive, lots of hard lines, kind of what Dom was talking about with lots of things kind of exploding and hard edges and bright colors and stuff like that. And so I think that’s kinda how I entered what design was. And over the years it’s been more of the process of understanding how to pare it back and get more of that edginess through subtlety rather than hitting you over the face with it. So it feels just a little more of a, uh, kind of coming of age, like putting that into the work and understanding how do you pare back to the thing that makes it feel the most true to what you’re trying to get at instead of just adding, adding, adding. So I think balance, I guess would be what the process has been.
Erik McGrew: If there’s been any change, it’s kind of a stripping away of certain things. I’m trying to be more refined. I struggle with sometimes I get anxiety that I feel like my work is too all over the place. Like again, kind of like coming out of school, you know, you want this nice clean portfolio that looks like everything fits and I don’t have that with my body of work. And I kind of in the past couple of years have like leaned into that and sort of realized that I think that that it’s actually like a strength and it’s been exhausting. But I think I would like, I think I equate it to like I’ve spent the past 10 years collecting all these weird tools that don’t necessarily fit together, but now I have this toolbox of weird tools that I can make things that I personally like, I really enjoy. So it’s been good. So yeah, I think just realizing that maybe having a weird array of different versions of your style can kind of be a string.
Adrian Tennant: So excluding the work you’ve done since you’ve been at Bigeye, what is the most rewarding design project you’ve ever worked on and what made it so?
Erik McGrew: I think mine was, and it wasn’t a big project, I got to design a beer can. Which was kind of like a fun, like a personal goal. Like I’ve always wanted to do that, but we got to work with a brewery out of North Carolina and it was daunting because one thing that made it really great was I got to work with my buddy Michael Forrest who is like next level, but he’s just, he’s incredible. Like I almost want to use the word savant. It’s just he’s such a good person to just talk design with and he’ll say things that I think are like so prolific. And I’m like, “Oh my God, I never would have had that thought.” But working with him was great and we got to design this can for King Canary Brewing. And I said yes to the project and then they sent the style guide over and I realize that this brewery had been branded by these two guys that I’ve looked up to forever. Like, and so then I’m like, “Okay, cool. No pressure. Like I just have to do something that at least is this good.” But it was fun. I think we came up with a really cool canned design and it was just a fun month-long project to work on and it was also just really weirdly rewarding. I think the lesson there is like sometimes it’s those small projects that feel you as a person and the ones that you think are going to be cool and bigger, like where you into the ground and it’s really difficult to get through them.
Adrian Tennant: Nick, have you got a favorite?
Nick Hammond: Yeah, so I did a project with one of my old employers that I was at. They’re called Backcountry.com. They’re kind of like a smaller REI. And when I got in there, we were building out our own in-house private brands team. And so we were responsible for creating a brand, basically, start to finish and kind of working through some of the brands that they had already created and the separations between the two and how you were working to market them toward different demographics. And it was cool because I was able to kind of weave in my background with apparel and help create apparel from start to finish, but also all the marketing around it. And so to me it was incredible to be able to touch pretty much every single endpoint from start to finish of what not only one brand was, but what multiple brands were and watch that go through different segmentation processes and how that was being received and iterate on it. And we were pulling everything in from, you know, social stuff at the time. This was when Instagram video or like the whatever that is, Instagram live stuff had first started coming out. So we were using a lot of that. Yeah. And then traveling across the US on scene on location to do a bunch of video stuff as well. So, yeah, to me that was incredible because it was not only moving fast but you were, you were touching everything and so if you messed up something at one point you would deal with your own difficulties later down the line. And so I think that really gives you an eyeopening perspective of what other people do and how different factors can come into effect. Any number of things in the creative process,
Adrian Tennant: Dom, have you got a favorite?
Dominic Wilson: I had the opportunity within the past year to create and develop a 3D design and dynamics rig for a new admissions look at the Savannah college of art and design. The work was so well received that it was used in their first-ever ad placement in times square in three locations running for a week, which then led to two additional campaigns that ran thereafter. The final approved creative originated from a 3D dynamics rig I had developed three years prior and didn’t really have any use for it at the time. I also use the program called Cinema 4-D, which I was entirely self-taught in. Someone did send back a video of the ads running in the location, which was cool to see.
Adrian Tennant: So where is visual design headed in the decade ahead?
Nick Hammond: Absolutely no idea. It’s wild. It feels like it’s going in a million directions at once and like there are things popping up where people are doing stuff with programs that you never thought they could do. Programs are being pushed. It just feels like there are so many new doors opening and you can’t possibly keep up with all of the doors that are opening. So it’s, you’re just constantly seeing all this crazy stuff and trying to figure out is there something from that that I can pull either – whether that’s a technique or a way of thinking about a project or a solution to a project and yeah, it just feels wild. I personally am interested in when we get to the point where it turns into “Minority Report,” and we have like a full 3D-like room with gloves and all the designers are just creating 3D everything all the time. But I don’t think that’s going to happen for a while.
Erik McGrew: It does feel fractured, like in, you know, what works in print doesn’t necessarily work on social media, which doesn’t necessarily work in the video space. And then even inside social itself, like what works on Facebook doesn’t necessarily is a different tone than what works on Twitter than what works on Instagram. So yeah, I have no idea where it’s heading. I’m excited about where it’s heading. I think I’ve seen illustration really play a huge part in design over the past couple of years and I would love to continue to see it. I think we will probably continue to see illustration grow. Sure, motion graphics are just going to get bigger videos is going to get bigger.
Adrian Tennant: Great discussion guys. Thank you. So design in the decade ahead is going to be a wild ride but we’re happy to go along with it. Okay. Thank you. Thank you to Dominic Wilson.
Dominic Wilson: Yeah, no problem. It was great.
Adrian Tennant: Erik McGrew
Erik McGrew: Thanks for having me.
Adrian Tennant: Nick Hammond
Nick Hammond: Thanks. Hopefully, I get to come back in the future.
Adrian Tennant: You can find links to the resources we discussed on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Bigeyeagency.com under “Insights.” Please consider subscribing to the show on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player. And if you have an Amazon Echo device, you can use the IN CLEAR FOCUS skill to add the podcast to your Flash Briefing. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.
When it comes to effective digital apartment marketing, video has proven invaluable in a broad spectrum of circumstances and applications.
According to recent statistics, more than 75% of Americans now shop online. This means that, whether they are buying groceries or searching for a new apartment, consumers are responding to the ample information and dynamic features that only online marketing can provide.
The informative digital marketing authority Quicksprout reports that videos engender a 74% increase in overall understanding of a product/service when compared to still photos and, perhaps more importantly, boost the likelihood of an ultimate purchase by a whopping 64%. In fact, 80% of Internet users have strong memories of the video advertisements that they watch online, and 46% take some sort of direct action as a direct result of their video viewing.
The practical applications of video in the field of apartment marketing are virtually endless when it comes to boosting conversion rates among prospective renters. Of course, the road to these increased conversions depends on the unique qualities, deficiencies, needs, and goals of the apartment business at hand. Therefore, the first step toward using video to power your apartment marketing efforts is deciding upon the specific categories of video that you would like to immediately pursue. Here are just a few that you’ll definitely want to consider:
1. Listing / Tour Videos
The most prevalent form of apartment marketing video, the listing/tour video has proven very effective. Quicksprout cites statistics showing that listings with an attached video generate 403% more inquiries than those without. Although a virtual tour of the apartment itself is an absolute must, these videos are even more successful if they also show key aspects of the surrounding neighborhood, community, and/or city.
2. Interview / Testimonial Videos
In an interactive modern marketplace that is profoundly influenced by social media, social proof reigns supreme. Therefore, you simply cannot underestimate the value of a well-placed interview or testimonial video. Whether they are new to your community or have lived in it for years, satisfied tenants are an invaluable resource. By offering a few positive comments in their own words, your loyal tenants can become video marketing superstars.
3. Apartment Advice Videos
One of the most popular types of online video is the ”how-to.” As a result, some of the most effective apartment marketing videos offer advice on apartment hunting and/or moving process. Incorporating this category of video into your overall marketing campaign can drive conversations from an incredibly wide audience base.
4. Housing Market Update Videos
Like an apartment advice video, a video that provides information on the current housing market in your area can easily lead to a conversion. This is especially true if the information provided casts your apartment rentals in a particularly light.
5. Brand Promotional Videos
When it comes to centering your apartment marketing campaign, nothing works better than a good brand promotional video. Typically a bit longer than the average real estate video, your brand video can root your entire website and/or social media page in a central message that demonstrates your company’s unique approach and style.
Tips for Making Effective Apartment Marketing Videos
After determining the type of video you would like to make and the audience that you would like to reach, it’s time to start planning. Critical questions to ask during this phase include “who and what will your videos feature” and “how will this video attract/keep the attention and ultimately lead to conversions.” Whether you choose to produce videos yourself or hire experienced audio/visual professionals, you would be wise to keep a few industry best practices in mind. These best practices include…
1. Aim for Instant Impact
The typical viewer will judge your video within the first few seconds, so you must make an immediate positive impression. This means creating videos with high production values that scream “I am worthwhile” from the onset. Remember: customers have nearly endless options when it comes to watching videos online.
2. Keep It Brief
Research has shown that viewers overwhelmingly prefer shorter videos to those that are longer. Don’t test the attention span or challenge the time commitment of your audience. Generally speaking, a two-minute video is ideal for most forms of real estate marketing.
3. Avoid Auto-Play Videos
Most people simply don’t appreciate a video that begins blaring at them the second that they visit a particular webpage. Allow viewers to choose exactly which videos they might like to view on your website or social media page and click on these videos at their leisure.
4. Motivate Viewers to Take Action
To increase your chances of making a conversion, you should include essential information such as agency logo and contact details during both the introduction and conclusion of each video. (Remember that the modern consumer may only watch your video for a few seconds!) To drive conversations among viewers who make it all the way to the end of your video, consider integrating a clickable lead capture link or “shop now” button directly into the video frame itself. You should also take the time to include a compelling call-to-action that directs viewers to visit a particular online destination and/or enter lead information.
To learn more about the benefits of video
A full-service real estate digital marketing agency and an incubator for forward-thinking industry techniques, Bigeye has developed countless creative uses for promotional video. Contact us today and let us show you all the ways that you can boost conversion rates with video.
Here’s what brands can learn from the companies and product marketing agencies that know how to sell products and design experiences at the highest level.
Slack, the social workplace messaging platform, has drawn lots of favorable notice in advance of its $23 billion IPO. If you’ve used it, you understand why Slack has grown so popular. The overall experience is sticky in the extreme, encouraging near constant use. You don’t have to work at a product marketing agency or specialize in consumer marketing to recognize what an effective job Slack has done by integrating clever marketing with a deeply engaging user experience.
So how exactly has Slack been so successful? Let’s take a closer look.
How Slack uses clever copywriting to create highly addictive user experiences
If you’ve spent any time on Twitter in recent years, you’re familiar with a certain brand voice: Clever, self-deprecating, irreverent, but not offensive. In other words, the voice that many popular fast foods brands use on social media and featured in many startup marketing campaigns.
Slack uses its own version of this voice in its product, but deploys the voice strategically. The company understands that users have varying levels of receptivity to a lighthearted tone. After all, who wants to deal with jokes and puns when struggling to figure out an onboarding process?
Instead, Slack uses jokes and whimsical visualizations during so-called “end stage” or “empty stages” of the customer experience. These are pages or screens that don’t require any copy to help a user progress toward a goal — a “thank you for registering” page, for example.
While Slack takes a clever approach to copywriting, the company also understands that it’s important not to go overboard. Sara Culver, Slack content and design manager, listed a few of the company’s copywriting rules at a recent marketing seminar:
Don’t make the user feel guilty. Anyone who has ever been asked to download an e-book or sign up for a newsletter is familiar with the standard guilt trip: The “yes” button includes language along the lines of “I want to take advantage of this incredible opportunity!” Meanwhile, the “no” button says something like “sorry, I’m not interested in subscribing because I want my competitors to put me out of business.” These guilt trips are annoying, alienating and defeat the purpose of using clever copy.
Voice continuity. It’s extremely off-putting to read copy associated with a product and have the language veer from voice to voice. Stick with your brand voice when creating product copy and users will be much more comfortable, and receptive to what you are saying.
Use active prose and eliminate repetition. Good product copy is lively and engages users from a slightly different angle than what they are used to. It also avoids repetition, which is clunky and unprofessional.
Great copy enhances product marketing but can’t make up for poor UX and/or functionality. Even the most clever and compelling copy won’t alleviate the stress users deal with when confronted by poor UX and confusing or inoperable functionality.
What the right product marketing agency can do for you
If you’re looking for direct to consumer advertising and other creative services, you should have one key priority: Finding an agency that can deliver consistently compelling campaigns and strategy.
At Bigeye, we know the power of well-executed product marketing. If you’re looking for a product marketing agency to help you create the kind of sticky and hyper-addictive copy favored by Slack, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.
In marketing, “transmedia storytelling” is a trendy buzzword. Marketers have often proclaimed the benefits of placing much of their advertising-driven focus on telling a compelling “story,” but what is actually represented by the story itself may be a bit hazy. That’s where the marketers at your favorite marketing agency in Orlando come in – we’ll help you paint a clearer picture of how a viable story might help you to provide positive support and reinforcement for your message.
Before the digital revolution, brand storytelling meant something very specific. In particular, it applied to the types of stories we share with one other, in both formal and informal settings, often containing an overarching narrative – including protagonists, antagonists, and the like.
With the ever-present and constantly changing advent of emerging technology, storytelling has taken on a brand new connotation (pun intended). Sometimes called transmedia storytelling, these are, from a broad perspective, the stories about your brand as told through the use of social media, design and other elements that help give people the entire picture of what your brand is all about. Additionally, every image or bit of copy itself can also tell a story. Even Google’s “Don’t be evil” slogan gives us a pretty solid example of how the brand strives to present itself – abiding by the belief that a company that does good things for the world might be forced to forego some short-term goals.
Let’s take a look at how we can apply storytelling in a variety of business facets:
Storytelling in Copywriting
“Just do it.” “Think different.” “Got milk?” Each of these copywriting examples represents a widely-known slogan. In just a few short words, the copywriters responsible for these taglines are able to tell fantastic stories about their business. But it doesn’t stop here. Content through longer-form text and via social media are both excellent avenues to deliver stories out into the world.
Storytelling in Imagery
Images are effective because they truly resonate with people, transporting them to the locale that they see in the visual. Make an impact on your audience by relying on impactful visuals to tell these stories.
Storytelling in Web Design
Does the design layout of your website accurately depict who you are as a brand? Cutting-edge companies often have interesting websites that also reflect these values, whereas simple brands will employ more simplistic websites to reflect the mission of the business.
Storytelling in User Experience
Beyond simply website or mobile app design, this scenario poses the question of whether the user’s experience across platforms is consistent with your brand story. For instance, if you advertise excellent customer service, then your user experience can aptly highlight this feature by allowing ease of navigation of your apps, as well as features that place the customer at the center of the experience.
Storytelling in Sales
People are much more engaged with stories than with hard facts. Use interesting stories in your sales decks and presentation in order to help highlight your business’s strengths and create a feeling of “relatability” within your audience.
Storytelling in Company Culture
To at least some extent, your company’s people are the living and breathing representations of your story. Think of corporations like Google and Apple, both of which lean on their unique corporate cultures as the heart of how they do business. As an organization, who are you are, where you come from, and why you do what you do often makes for a very compelling story.
Storytelling in Customer Service
For Zappos, customer service IS the story. Zappos employees will stay on the phone with customers for 8 hours or longer just to fulfill the high customer service expectations set forth for and by customers. And, Zappos’ customer service commitment actually inspired an entire book called Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, which essentially contains a collection of stories the culminate in the overall Zappos brand story.
If you’re not focusing on your brand’s story in all areas of your business, maybe it’s time to shift the paradigm – to begin thinking about how your great tale might best be told. Our Florida marketing agency can help you find and focus on a brand story worth sharing with your customers. Contact us today to let us help you refine your approach, and develop strategies to create a library of success stories!
What a Creative Advertising Agency Can Learn from Geico
Studying Geico ads, your creative advertising agency can learn invaluable tools for your brand campaigns—making them more effective, memorable, and fun.
Everyone knows Geico Insurance. Whether you’re a fan of the gecko, caveman, or another one of their mascots, we’ve all got to hand it to Geico for their incredibly well-done ads. We fully recognize it’s no accident either, they consistently make brilliant, strategic decisions ultimately getting them to where they are today.
Our curiosity peaks when we ask the question: What drives those ever-changing concepts? Here’s what we’ve learned.
1. Don’t let the product be the only focus.
Let’s be real, insurance is not the most engaging subject. Consumers don’t pay attention to ads centered on jargon and driven by industry best practices; they want to be entertained. Geico’s creative advertising agency does an amazing job of having fun with their product with a purpose. For example, the caveman ads. A campaign that revolved around the concept that cavemen exist today and the slogan, “so easy a caveman could do it” deeply offends them.
This has absolutely nothing to do with insurance, any industry has a convenient pull and this could have resonated in any of them. It’s simply that Geico coined it. You can see this idea in most of their ads. However, the product isn’t just tacked on either. It’s a big plot point. Who is saying their product is, “so easy a caveman could do it?” Geico.
They are central to the plot but not the only focus. Your campaign strategy should do the same thing. Get a creative ad agency with strategies that will weave your brand into the content in interesting, innovative ways.
2. Put in the resources.
Amazing ads can’t be crafted in 2 hours on $10. Giving your creative ad agency the time and resources they need to truly capture your voice and vision is a huge step towards long-term campaign success. According to Forbes, Geico invested $5 million in ad creation for 2017 alone. That’s an astronomical number, but for the breadth of ads, quality content, varied target markets the results show it all. That year, Geico’s brand awareness hit 53%. For context, Progressive’s high-point that year was 43%.
Now it’s not all about spending, Progressive had spent $4.5 million and got significantly lower results. The talent must also be there, as well as avid and clear communication on vision and goals. Look at the top creative agencies in your industry, target markets, and locations before you decide which creative advertising agency should get that big investment. Money can only take you so far, you need the right people.
3. Don’t keep repeating the same ad.
Even the most energizing and unique concepts can get monotonous and bothersome over time. Don’t make your audience watch the same thing over and over. Whether it’s through one concept with multiple executions or multiple different campaigns running at once, give your audience varied the content. Geico is a great example of both practices. Their creative advertising agency ran many spots featuring their acoustic musicians in ads such as Hump Day and Christopher Columbus. Then ran separate campaigns at the same time by keeping their Gecko ads running while ads featuring fun facts in realistic situations were also on air.
More than varied content, you need to also use multiple channels. Geico ads can be found in print, on TV, and YouTube Pre-roll too. Get a creative digital agency that works across platforms. This way, your content will be seen and won’t get stale.
Memorable advertising is a complex order, and every brand is different. You can achieve high brand awareness and drive profits with a few key concepts. So, what are the takeaways? Have more than one ad, keeping your consumers engaged demands innovative, plentiful content. Let the story drive the ad, your brand should be a key plot driver but not the only focus. Tell a complete narrative that lets your products shine without being the only concept at hand. Finally, give your agency the time, information, and funding they need to reach your goals effectively.
As a creative advertising agency, we understand how vital engaging, varied advertising is to a thriving business. We’re strategy first in all aspects, tailoring our services to your industry, target market, and needs to optimize your ad spend and drive effective results. Reach out to learn about what we can do for you.